Several U.S. Postal Service employees based in Augusta voiced concern at a Tuesday meeting regarding a proposal to move part of its processing operations to Columbia.
A public meeting was held to reveal initial results of an area mail-processing study done in February, which showed consolidating all outgoing mail services from the Augusta Processing and Distribution Center to the one in Columbia would increase efficiency and improve productivity.
The plan could save the Postal Service more than $550,000, but it would likely affect seven jobs at the Augusta center, said North Florida District Manager Eric Chavez.
"It saves in overall cost and boosts our efficiencies, also," he said.
Change is necessary to match up against competitors and adapt to advances in technology, according to information provided in the Postal Service presentation.
In the past decade, the number of first-class pieces of mail has dropped from 50 billion to 30 billion, Chavez said.
While retail and other services wouldn't change as a result of the consolidation, first-class mail sent from Augusta to Louisiana, Arkansas, Illinois, Missouri and southern Florida would shift from two- to three-day delivery.
After a short video and presentation, those in the audience were asked for their input.
Karen Gilmore, with the American Postal Workers Union, said the change could cause Augusta and smaller communities to lose their local identity and create delays for people who receive medicine and payments by mail.
Many in attendance were not pleased when they found out they could only give feedback at the meeting and not receive answers.
Chris Doucet, who works in the maintenance department at the Augusta postal facility, said people won't want to send mail to another city when they can take it themselves that same day.
About 50 people attended the meeting, which was held at the Jabez Sanford Hardin Performing Arts Center. Chavez said afterward that the Postal Service tried to hold the meeting at the Augusta-Richmond County Library and an Augusta college, but both were booked.
Freda Tylor said she was thankful that she had the chance to voice her opinion.
"I, for one, do appreciate that y'all are trying to make the change because it does make a different in my and my husband's retirement from the Postal Service," said Tylor, a retired Augusta mail clerk.